Here’s What Huawei’s Android Ban Means For Consumers – A Summary [Updated]

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that allows the government to prohibit American companies from doing business with foreign telecom outfits to safeguard network security. The move comes at the apex of a trade war between the United States and China, and after devices manufactured by China’s Huawei were classified as a security risk under the suspicion that the company may be forced by its government to spy on U.S. networks through these very devices. So it comes as no surprise that Huawei is the first to be impacted.

On Sunday, it was made public that U.S. companies would have to stop all business with Huawei in compliance with the new order. This, of course, includes Google, which has revoked Huawei’s Android license. But what does that mean for the average consumer? If you’re here, you likely have a Huawei device, are planning to buy one, or are simply curious as to the future of the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer. We answer all your burning questions below.

Here is everything we’ve been able to gather regarding the implications of Huawei’s Android ban.

  • The ban affects all Huawei devices, including those in its “Honor” line, though implications are a tad different for existing and future devices.
  • Huawei has been afforded a 90-day exemption, ending August 19, to wrap up its business with U.S. companies. The company may use this grace period to continue sending updates to its existing Android phones. After said grace period, however, these devices will be barred from receiving any more Google-licensed Android updates.
  • Google Play and its Google Play Protect service will continue to work on existing Huawei devices (@Android).
  • Huawei has a three-month stockpile of parts that it buys from U.S. companies (Bloomberg), which should sustain hardware production for said period, but beyond that, the company will have to look into switching suppliers.
  • As for software, Huawei does still have the option to continue using Android in its bare-bones AOSP (Android Open-Source Project) form, but it will still have to find or develop alternatives for Google Play services, including the Play Store.
  • The company has been quietly working on its own mobile operating system. In development since 2012 and codenamed “HongMeng” (Huawei Central), the firmware will be able to run all Android apps and is expected for a release this fall. A newer report refutes this claim, saying that the OS is “far from ready” and may require third-party apps to be developed from scratch, which suggests it may not support Android apps (The Information). Update: Huawei has confirmed that HongMeng won’t be ready before late 2019 for China and 2020 for the rest of the world (Techradar).
  • If Huawei’s proprietary OS is unable to run Android apps, users may have to rely on third-party alternatives for apps from any companies based in the United States. This includes Facebook, Twitter, and the like.
  • A report by Bloomberg suggests that Huawei may already have a Play Store alternative on hand in the App Gallery offering that the company has been shipping with its devices of late. The App Gallery currently features apps that the company had developers build for the Chinese market.
  • While the company has its own Kirin line of SoCs, these chips are based on architecture developed by ARM, which too has cut ties with Huawei. ARM isn’t an American company – it is based in the UK – but it appears some of its designs use “US Origin technology” (BBC News).
  • Huawei has been removed from the SD Association, which means that it won’t be able to use the storage medium in future devices (Android Authority).
  • The Wi-Fi Alliance too has “temporarily restricted” Huawei’s say in the future of the Wi-Fi standard, though this doesn’t prevent the company from using the communications standard in their devices (Nikkei Asian Review).

Update (7/1/2019): Following President Trump’s meeting with the Chinese Premiere, the former announced that Huawei will be allowed to trade with American companies in areas where there is no security risk. This means that the company will be able to resume business with Google and reacquire its Android license.

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Sameed Khan

I write, game, design at times, and revel in sarcasm. You can find me on Twitter.